German Far-Right Leader Accused of Echoing Hitler in Attack on ‘Globalized Class’
The leader of Germany’s far-right AfD Party has been accused by prominent historians of echoing a 1933 speech by Adolf Hitler in a recent newspaper article.
Writing for the conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last weekend, AfD leader Alexander Gauland took aim at the favored targets of right-wing populists in Europe, with an attack on what he called a “globalized class.”
“They live almost exclusively in big cities, speak fluent English, and when they move from Berlin to London or Singapore for jobs, they find similar flats, houses, restaurants, shops and private schools everywhere,” Gauland wrote. Members of this class, he continued, socialized only among themselves, were “culturally colorful” and had no “attachment” to their national homelands.
Several German historians seized on Gauland’s phrasing to point out the eerie parallels with a speech given by Hitler in November 1933 at the Siemens Dynamo Works in Berlin — the first speech by the Nazi leader to be broadcast by every radio station in Germany. In that address, Hitler railed against “a small, rootless, international clique that is turning the people against each other.”
“It is the people who are at home both nowhere and everywhere, who do not have anywhere a soil on which they have grown up, but who live in Berlin today, Brussels tomorrow, Paris the day after that,” Hitler stated. Although he did not mention Jews by name on this occasion, members of the audience obliged the Nazi leader with cries of “the Jews” nonetheless.
Wolfgang Benz, the author of several books and academic articles on the Nazi persecution, told Der Tagesspiegel — the newspaper that originally highlighted the likenesses between the two texts — that Gauland had clearly paraphrased Hitler.
“It’s a paraphrase that looks as if the AfD head had the Führer’s speech from 1933 on his desk when he was writing his column for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” Benz wrote in Der Tagesspiegel.
Michael Wolffsohn, another historian, charged that Gauland was sending a disturbing message to his party’s supporters.
“It is awful that Gauland is signaling to his educated followers that he knows the speech and style of Hitler,” Wolffsohn said.
Gauland denied the accusations when approached by Der Tagesspiegel, insisting he was not familair with the speech by Hitler.
The AfD leader was fiercely condemned by Jewish leaders and German politicians in June for a speech in which he described the 12 years of Nazi rule in Germany, from 1933 to 1945, as “mere bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”